Energy Advice Line Calls for Tougher Regulation of Rogue Agents

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The UK’s leading independent price comparison and switching service for businesses has called for tighter regulation of energy brokers and agents. Julian Morgan, managing director of the Energy Advice Line, urged Ofgem to expand its remit to regulate third party intermediaries (TPIs), which include switching services, brokers and agents, to protect businesses from unscrupulous selling practices.

It’s crucial for businesses to use an impartial price comparison and switching service like the Energy Advice Line.

The UK’s leading independent price comparison and switching service for businesses has called for tighter regulation of energy brokers and agents.

Julian Morgan, managing director of the Energy Advice Line, urged Ofgem to expand its remit to regulate third party intermediaries (TPIs), which include switching services, brokers and agents, to protect businesses from unscrupulous selling practices.

Ofgem this week confirmed its determination to press ahead with a radical overhaul of the retail energy market after calls for action by consumers. Ofgem has signalled that this could include bringing TPIs under regulatory control, and is investigating possible ways to do this.

Mr Morgan said he was aware of growing numbers of businesses that had fallen victim to rogue agents who used unscrupulous selling techniques to pressure firms into utility contracts that were not competitive.

“We would welcome regulation,” Mr Morgan said.

“We adhere to a code of conduct and see ourselves as consumer champions, but unfortunately there are many unscrupulous agents out there whose only objective is their commission.

“We would like to see these agents forced to comply with certain standards of conduct so that businesses are protected.”

Mr Morgan said that as a result of enquiries to the Energy Advice Line, he was aware of a number of strategies rogue agents used to mis-sell business energy contracts.

These dishonest techniques included agents purporting to offer quotes from a range of suppliers when they were really only taking commission from one and cold-calling from purchased lists of business names and numbers.

In some cases, agents lied and pretended to be calling on behalf of the Energy Advice Line, while others refused to be transparent about their prices or the commission they were receiving from suppliers.

“It’s crucial for businesses to use an impartial price comparison and switching service like the Energy Advice Line,” Mr Morgan said. “We always ensure that businesses have all the information they need – with no pressure – to make a well-informed and confident decision about the supplier they switch to.”

He urged businesses to follow the following steps to ensure they were not mis-sold an energy contract:

  •     Go with a broker that has a large panel of suppliers – check that they are not just working for one specific supplier with a view to making as much commission as possible. Check the internet to confirm the prices on offer are competitive;
  •     Say no to cold calls – the Energy Advice Line never cold-calls businesses. Do not accept an energy deal from someone who calls you out of the blue;
  •     Verify who you are talking to – ring the company back and ask to speak to your account manager to ensure they are being truthful about the company they represent;
  •     Price transparency – go with a broker who is prepared to put the energy tariffs they offer on their website so you can be sure you are making the right choice;
  •     Commission transparency – demand to know what commission the broker or service receives from the energy supplier in exchange for your introduction. If they will not tell you, be suspicious;
  •     Pressure selling – a professional price comparison and switching service will not exert any pressure on you to enter into a contract, and will give you the information and time you need to ensure you are making the right choice.

The Energy Advice Line, an impartial online business electricity and business gas price comparison service run by business energy experts for business energy customers, dedicated exclusively to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK.

EAL has developed an online price comparison and switching service exclusively dedicated to business needs. Visit http://www.energyadviceline.org.uk/ for more details.

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